Mastitis occurs when milk is retained in a breast that is not adequately expressed or the obstruction of milk duct, or through an infection caused by germs that enter the breast through cracked or damaged nipples. Mastitis usually follows engorgement that is not appropriately managed and slowly worsens. The breast may feel hard and become red, swollen, and painful to the touch. The mother may experience headaches, fatigue, fever higher than 38 degrees Celsius and may have obstruction of the milk duct as well.
Causes of Mastitis
- An oversupply of breast milk which exceeds the baby’s demand.
- Baby does not empty the breast milk during feedings resulted in residual milk in the breast.
- Baby does not suck milk correctly causing retention of breast milk.
- Obstruction of milk ducts
- Nipple is dry and cracked, allowing germs into the breast and causing infection.
- Continue breastfeeding even though it is painful because breastfeeding will help speed up the recovery process.
- Let your baby feed from the breast with mastitis first to ensure maximum removal.
- Breastfeed at 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour-period and for at least 15 to 20 minutes on each side.
- Ensure that your baby is latched on correctly and position your baby’s chin towards the lump(s) in your breast so the baby can use their tongue more efficiently to drain that area.
- Change your baby’s position with each feed so milk is being empty from all parts of the breast.
- Gently massage your breast while your baby is nursing by massaging the area above the plugged duct and down towards the nipple, to release the plug.
- After breastfeeding use cold compresses to reduce pain and swelling. If needed, take painkiller, such as paracetamol.
- Wear a supportive bra that is not too loose or too tight.
- If your condition doesn’t improve within 24 hours, see your doctor or visit the Breastfeeding Clinic.